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Recount reverses results in District 45 race   (AR)

RACHEL PARKER DICKERSON    Log Cabin Democrat   24 May 2008

The Faulkner County Election Commission has determined that Linda Tyler is the winner of the House District 45 election.

The new outcome, according to Election Commission Chair Bruce Haggard, is Tyler, 792 votes; Dr. Terry Fiddler, 764 votes.

"I want to apologize personally and on behalf of the election commissioners and the county clerk for these recording errors that were made on election night," Haggard said, adding that the commission will conduct an audit "to find out what went wrong" and ensure the mistakes made Tuesday night never happen again.

Haggard said the commission discovered three cartridges from the McGee Center that were not included on election night. He said the machines were "at the end of the line" and as turnout was so low that all machines were not in constant use, recorded extraordinarily low voter turnout.

When these machines were delivered to the Faulkner County Courthouse to be processed, he said, they were set aside.
When the three cartridges were processed Friday afternoon, Haggard said, Tyler picked up 22 votes and Fiddler picked up 16.

The election commission also discovered an error in the East Cadron B precinct machine that caused votes cast in the Cadron Township Constable race for John Edwards and Paul Niehaus to be "dropped into" the District 45 race, Haggard said. He said he did not know whether this mistake was caused by an error within the machine or an error by the person who programmed the machine.

By looking at the paper trail, he said, the commission feels confident in its determination of which votes were meant for whom.

"As a result of that one precinct, where the constable race results were placed in the District 45 results, Tyler lost 6 and Fiddler lost 51," Haggard said.

The result was "a net change of 16 plus for Tyler, minus 35 for Fiddler," he said.

Tyler said, "I'm pleased that we came through the process and were successful. The folks on our team worked so very hard, and I'm so very thankful to them. I appreciate the work that Melinda Reynolds and the election commission did and their diligence in completing this. I feel like all the votes were counted, and that's what's important.

"I'm looking forward to continuing to represent the Democratic party, and I'm looking forward to a great race in the fall."

Fiddler said he does not dispute the result of the process, but is disappointed that given the significant expense of electronic voting machines, "this is what we get."

"The results are the results," he said. "Three things happened here: We had an extremely low voter turnout. When you personally go to 3,200 doors and you get 700 votes, that is apathy to a historical degree. Then you add three machines not getting counted and you add an inaccuracy in the numbers ped into a particular race. That's the fallacy in the outcome.

"She won the race. I'm not questioning that. What's going to happen in November when there's a presidential race and there's all sorts of people here. This was a 1,500 person turnout. What's going to happen when there's a 20,000 turnout? Maybe this is the time to ask for an election coordinator."

Haggard said an audit will reveal how the votes in the constable race ended up in the District 45 totals.

"We are very confident the recount vote is accurate, as it was done with a triple check. I apologize to all the voters, but especially to the candidates in District 45."

Haggard said the numbers changed a little in other races, but the outcomes of other races were unchanged. He said an audit would involve going back through everything in the election process, which is stored in an election audit file. The audit will be supervised by a representative of Election Systems and Software, the company that sells the voting machines, he said.

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